Leaders express divergent views

: The row between Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V.M. Sudheeran and the former All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary Shanimol Usman appeared to have snowballed with several party leaders expressing divergent opinions on Tuesday.

The opinions ranged from advisory by senior party leaders to shun controversies to clear positions supporting either Mr. Sudheeran or Ms. Shanimol Usman.

Minister for Home Ramesh Chennithala was the first to urge party leaders to keep off controversies and avoid hurting the sentiments of ordinary workers who were eagerly awaiting a positive result for the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Lok Sabha polls. UDF convener P P Thankachan said the leaders had every right to raise issues within reasonable limits in party forums, but he was opposed to deliberate media leaks of discussions in such forums.

Besides, each member could approach the party high command for redressal of their grievances, he said.

The former KPCC president K Muraleedharan batted in favour of Mr. Sudheeran, stating that attempts to destabilise the KPCC president would not be taken lightly. He said the members should be under no delusion that they could raise any kind of issue in party forums.

Allegations against leaders should be substantiated by evidence, he said.

Alappuzha District Congress Committee president A A Shukoor continued to oppose Ms. Shanimol Usman in more harsh tones.

He said she had become a tool in the hands of the liquor lobby.

The main point of debate among senior leaders was whether a party leader could be prevented from expressing opinions in a party forum. There is also a section that feels that Mr. Sudheeran had overacted to the entire issue. Had he chosen to ignore Ms. Shanimol Usman’s statements, the matter would have ended there.

However, the KPCC president chose to link the entire episode to his opposition to the proliferation of liquor dens and criticism against him from what he called “unexpected quarters” for the stand.

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